Tag: OTR

I Went Back to Ohio

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Burbank, Ohio

August 10, 2016 – (“Republished” from the WordPress site on 11/01/2019)

The sentence in Purgatory was complete and I had a load assignment.

My load was sitting on the Yard waiting for someone to haul it to Ohio.  It was due to be there yesterday at 5:00 AM.  It came it from Laredo, having crossed the border from Mexico to the Yard, then apparently sat there until they assigned it to me. I don’t pretend to understand why things happen that way, they just do.

The cargo weighs 31080 pounds and is made up of 3215 pieces on 47 pallets.  It is described as “Freight – All Kinds” and must be maintained at 65° Fahrenheit.  The only clue as to what it is will be the destination – Nabisco.  It is a sealed load that I will probably never see. I did not bother to scale or balance the load, since it made it this far.

The first I do is make a trip plan, so I did that in about an hour.  The fuel stops are picked for me, so mostly I pick my 30 minute break stops (to qualify for the last three hours of driving time) and where I settle for the night for the ten hour break that gets me another eleven for the next day.  By this time I had been awake and busy with the new truck, safety and training for fourteen hours, so the first thing on the trip plan is to go to sleep.

You may find it odd, but I have found that the best time to start a trip is a half hour after midnight.  The road out of town is clear and traffic is at a minimum.  The bars are still open so the patrons are not yet driving.  Things are quiet and calm and that is appropriate for driving an unfamiliar truck on the first leg of a journey of 166 miles.  Usually there is a “deadhead” mileage to add to that, but for this case, it is one mile.  And I didn’t use that much.  As I eased to the stop sign at the gate, the guard came out and waved me to the inbound side because the outbound gate was under repair.  Off to a flying start!

The midnight advantage was working since backing out of the gate would be impossible in the exodus of Purgatory-fleeing drivers all day Monday.  I find the selection of music available on the radio to be unimpressive.  I won’t be the first old man to say this:  Music today is rather disappointing.  The Instructor listened to what “country” music has become.  Willie Nelson it ain’t.

Fortunately, I had found my old CD’s in a closet and brought along a shoebox full.  Call me picky but only maybe six of those are worth hearing more than once.  One is the Dire Straits album “Brothers in Arms”.  It includes “So Far Away” which, back in my Field Work Days (42 days in the jungle/desert/mountains, then 14 in Caracas with Marilu) was “our song”.  It is appropriate these days as well.  I am learning it by heart for an eventual Karaoke recording as an anniversary present.  So, don’t tell her, OK?

I will resort to tactics invented by people who are paid by the word and quote the full lyrics:

  • Here I am again in this mean old town
  • And you’re so far away from me.
  • And where are you when the Sun go down?
  • You’re so far away from me
  • So far away from me
  • So far I just can’t see
  • So far away from me
  • You’re so far away from me.
  • I’m tired of bein’ in love and bein’ all alone.
  • When you’re so far away from me.
  • I’m tired of making out on the telephone
  • And you’re so far away from me.
  • So far away from me
  • So far I just can’t see
  • So far away from me
  • You’re so far away from me.
  • And I get so tired when I have to explain
  • When you’re so far away from me
  • See, you’ve been in the sun and I’ve been in the rain
  • And you’re so far away from me.
  • So far away from me
  • So far I just can’t see
  • So far away from me
  • You’re so far away from me.

I promised more photos but the view from the truck is what?

BurbankTruckStop.jpg

Yep, another truck stop.  And, it’s raining so I will do an album of various truck types – later maybe.

There is a unique feature of the Kenworth passenger seat in combination with the non-piece-of-plywood desk.  Photographing it is difficult, given the close quarters in here, but I’ll try:

DEskAndChair.jpg

You see that the passenger chair rotates to face the desk.  And, yes, it is probably the most comfortable chair you will ever sit in.  I spend ten plus hours a day in its twin and I’ll testify that they went all out on designing these chairs.

Back in Ohio

Steve

Haute Cuisine de Camionneur

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October 29, 2016  (Reprinted from the WordPress site on 10/02/2019)

Flying J Truck Stop, Waterloo, Iowa – Highway 20, exit 68

This nomadic lifestyle that has taken over my existence has ramifications that reach every aspect of life.

Socially, I am pretty much a hermit with a cell phone.  Part of that is my life-long character, but it has been exaggerated by Over the Road Trucking. Even when I have some time and am feeling lonely, I have a total of about five contacts before I run out of people to call.  Three of them are my immediate family.

Physically, I have lost 70 pounds, my blood pressure has plummeted and I feel much more energetic and alert.

Emotionally, I feel great when I drive.  Pickups and deliveries are interesting, but frustrating sometimes.  The 34 hour breaks are difficult, but writing helps to alleviate the boredom and depression.

I am going now to drop my empty trailer at a meat plant.  I will “bobtail” out and find shelter in the other truck stop across the street.  After that, I call every hour or two to find out if my loaded trailer is ready, then I activate my clock and go pull the trailer back here to weigh it.  Then, we are Off on the Road to Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Road Ranger/Pilot Truck Stop, Waterloo, Iowa – Highway 20, exit 68

Diet has also changed.  I buy deli meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes to make sandwiches, mostly.  I have not had a “meat and potatoes” meal since I left the house in August.  When supplies run down and I can’t manage to arrange a Walmart visit, I have to get creative.  I ran out of lunch meat and bread, but I have a secret stash of canned spiced ham*.  See photo below of my latest creation.

spampepperjackdillpickleletucewrapAbove: Haute Cuisine de Camionneur – Jambon épicé avec fromage et concombre sur la laitue

*Wikipedia:

Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937. Ken Daigneau, brother of a company executive, won a $100 prize that year in a competition to name the new item.[3] Hormel claims that the meaning of the name “is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives”, but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of “spiced ham”, “spare meat”, or “shoulders of pork and ham”.[7] Another popular explanation is that Spam is an acronym standing for “Specially Processed American Meat” or “Specially Processed Army Meat”.[8]

The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front during World War II saw Spam become a ubiquitous part of the U.S. soldier’s diet. It became variously referred to as “ham that didn’t pass its physical”, “meatloaf without basic training”,[1] and “Special Army Meat”. Over 150 million pounds of Spam were purchased by the military before the war’s end.[9]

During World War II and the occupations which followed, Spam was introduced into Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines, and other islands in the Pacific. Immediately absorbed into native diets, it has become a unique part of the history and effects of U.S. influence in the Pacific.[10]

As a consequence of World War II rationing and the Lend-Lease Act, Spam also gained prominence in the United Kingdom. British prime minister during the 1980s Margaret Thatcher later referred to it as a “wartime delicacy”.[11][12] In addition to increasing production for the U.K., Hormel expanded Spam output as part of Allied aid to the similarly beleaguered Soviet Union.[13] Nikita Khrushchev declared: “Without Spam we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army”.[14] Throughout the war, countries ravaged by the conflict and faced with strict food rations came to appreciate Spam.[15]

spamAbove: Jambon épicé (Spam – Glorious Spam! – it says so right there on the can)

 Interstate 80 Service Area near Bryan, OH

I find myself in another of those giant service areas in Ohio.  Rigs were parked out the entrance ramps as usual in the Northeast.  I was lucky that I was arriving at 6 AM and the early risers were just leaving.  I could snake my way through the late arrivals and find spaces open near the exit.  My next leg will end about 2 AM and I will not be so fortunate then.  This is a tight schedule and I can’t delay arrival.  There are some parking-only areas on this route and those generally are big enough for all.  I will defer further updates until I am sitting in the door in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. 

Rest Area on Interstate 84 East of Scranton, near Paupack, Pensylvania

 Scranton, Pennsylvania was the site of the Ballad of Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas by Harry Chapin.

My own cargo of bananas was thirty eight thousand pounds, from Central America, by way of La Porte, Texas and I took them to Clarksville, Arkansas.  And while I did travel down “The hill that leads to Scranton, Pennsylvania” last night, my own voyage was much less exciting.

Is now 11:00 AM, Eastern Daylight Time and there are snow flurries outside the truck – which is why I am inside the truck.  My appointment is at 23:00 (11 PM) in Rocky Hill,  Connecticut, which is a bit less than three hours away.  I slept from 6 AM when I arrived until nature called and said I had to go out in the flurries to the “facilities”.  I’ll will have “clock” for this journey in a few hours, so I will go back to sleep now and pick this up later.

It is early afternoon and I am preparing to make the run into Connecticut now.  No snow is falling and the road is clear.  I see traffic zooming by from where I sit.

Pilot Truck Stop #255, I95, exit 40 Milford, Connecticut

Another on-time delivery (OTD) accomplished.  This one was a live un-load and they didn’’t have all the sissy rules about disconnecting the tractor.  So, I get to enjoy the earthquake-like gyrations of the truck while multi-ton forklifts race in and out of the trailer, ultimately a few feet from where I am falling asleep.  After I have paperwork in hand, I can leave.  Now with no load or destination I can find refuge only 38 miles away in this Pilot where I can have a shower and sleep.

Before I can “get my clock back”, there is a new assignment to take pick up a trailer in New Jersey that is already loaded and waiting patiently for me to take it to Joliet, Illinois.   That where Jake Blues was getting out of prison and Elwood showed up to take him back to the sleazy little apartment with the el train running just outside the window.  If you have never seen this movie, you owe it to yourself.

Jill tells me, “You have eight hours and zero minutes of remaining drive time.” So, I must go now.  I will be driving in daylight for the first time in four days.  I hope I can find the sunglasses.

Steve

Ad Hoc Ergo Dormio

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10/1/2019 – Reprinted from the WordPress site

Stop & Shop DC, Assonet, Massachusetts, September 6, 2016

How I Spent Labor Day

You may remember I was headed for the final stop on a meat load.  It was another part of Massachusetts over by the East Coast.  Once again, I back into a door and they unload the truck while I either write or try to sleep.  They finish and tell me that there were some damaged goods.  Four boxes of Beef Liver at fifteen pounds each.  I have to inspect this for the claims department and dispose of it – two more of my unpaid duties.  The cardboard of the boxes is bent, but the plastic wrapper on each liver is still sealed.  In other words, this is perfectly acceptable product and it is stupid to waste it.  In talking to the freight handlers (“Lumpers”) in Massachusetts and in most of the Northeast, I find that the language spoken among them is almost exclusively Spanish.  Conveniently, I am fluent same and given my Gringo Good Looks, I am able to spring a thunderbolt of a surprise on these unsuspecting obreros.  They are frankly astonished when – out of the blue – I speak their language more eloquently and correctly than they do.  This is because I worked with Colombians and Peruvians who are quite crisp in their pronunciation and grammar.  And Bolivians (I know you’re out there;-).  I can also adopt a mush-mouth Maracaibo accent when the fancy strikes me.  But it really hurts my head to do so.  I can muster a convincing “Gringo” accent as well.  Remind me to tell you the story of the country boy surveyor in Venezeula who told the local field crew to bring their coolers over to the truck so he could fill them with ice.

I did offer the 60 pounds of liver to the Receiving clerk, who politely asked me if I was crazy.  I made same offer in Spanish and English to the Lumpers and Drivers.  No dice!  As I pointed out to one of them, if it were sirloin, they would all take it.  Heck, for sixty pounds of sirloin I would find a way to get it home. I called (from the receiving phone) to the Salvation Army and another charity.  Neither was open for Labor Day, but the Salvation Army God-Blessed me on their voice mail message.  Finally I left with the 60 pounds of liver figuratively hung from a twine around my neck like an albatross.  At the gate I have to open the cargo doors to show that I’m not pilfering and I mentioned the liver to the guard.  He called a Catholic food bank director who came over personally to take the liver off my hands.  The guard let me linger in the 5 minute parking until the director showed up. Apparently this kind of scenario happens frequently.  That is, the damage is limited to the container while the product is completely intact.

While that was transpiring, I got a message that my load from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania had been canceled.  A new load from New Jersey to Laredo took its place.  While I was deadheading (driving with an empty trailer) to New Jersey,  that load was also canceled.  Fortunately, it was another New Jersey shipper, so the travel wasn’t wasted.  But, I ran into traffic coming back from Labor Day and decided that attempting New York City was best left to the wee small hours of the morning.  Every last space of the fuel stop parking was taken, but I found a “Service Plaza” before the Bronx.  It was from there, on the public WiFi that I got a message out about the “graveyard dead” iPhone.

On to New Jersey , Lucca Cold Storage Vineland, NJ

The drive in the morning was astonishingly uncomplicated.  Truckers complain about the George Washington Bridge mostly because the lanes are narrow, but I found both the bridge and the river quite  scenic.  Admittedly, it was like the following:  Jerk head to left, briefly look at river, then eyes back to the road in a hurry. The same on the right.  Yup, scenic!

I got to the new shipper where more Spanish speaking Lumpers loaded my truck with exactly four pallets that took up about the first six feet of the 53 foot trailer and did not rise above 4 feet in height.  The total weight is 590 pounds.  Frozen catfish – destined for two different Wal Mart distribution centers in Texas.  This trip makes no economic sense at all.  I will burn about 250 gallons of diesel fuel to get this relatively tiny load to Texas.  Between that, my pay and the overhead it already will cost over two dollars a pound just to put the product on the shelf.  But, as long as they  still pay the going rate, who am I to complain? Far from it.  The light load means I will not have to play the downshift game while climbing hills.

The loading was two hours late, there was confusion about the tiny size of the load and the flashing red light that told me not to move refused to go out.  The Company (that’s what I will call the people I work for, from now on) thinks that this is a produce load.  They have certain rules and procedures for produce that are stricter  and require more free work from the drivers.  There is no possibility of convincing the system that fish is not produce, so I need to report a set of read-outs from the refrigeration unit every 12 hours. I took care of all these niggling details, sent my required messages and hit the road.

All that took a lot of time out of the middle of my driving day.  So, now my 14 hour total on-duty span was eating up 11 hour clock, but I had about 4 hours left to drive.  It was counting down whether I was driving or not, so I hastened to make use of the time.  There is no “taking a break” in this situation.  The remaining drive hours just counts down at 60 seconds per minute, no matter what.

You Can’t Get There From Here

Ultimately, I was caught out.  I ran into traffic around Washington and Baltimore and wound up in a race to get to I-81 in Virginia and the truck stop at exit 323.  I lost.  Jill had routed me down state highways and I was paralleling I-81 and needed to jog over to it and go back North to the exit.  Time was running out and when I stopped in front of a restaurant to tell Jill where the truck stop was and check the mileage left. I found I had 24 miles to go and 15 minutes do it.  The truck doesn’t go that fast.

Panic ensued as my mind raced to think of a way out of this nightmare. A slow dawn arose in my brain as I realized I was looking about 150 feet past the closed restaurant at a patch of land with a long abandoned parking lot where grass was growing out of cracks in the asphalt.  I pulled up and backed the truck into it and managed to get 50 feet between the cab and the highway.   I was back toward the trees in a reasonably inconspicuous place to hide for 10 hours.  I was trapped there by Federal Regulations for the time being.

About an hour later, another truck shows up.  The driver is Russian and asks me if it’s OK to park.  He is in the same regulatory limbo as I am.  I generously welcome him to my new truck stop. I am calling it The Ad Hoc Truck Stop (#1).

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning “for this”. In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes.

AdHocTruckStop.jpg

Above: Kenworth # 12946 at the Ad Hoc Truck Stop (#1).  I turned off the lights right after this and tried to “blend in” to the trees.

By the time I am fully charged with drive time at five AM, there are two more trucks parked over by the still closed restaurant.  There is a real estate broker’s sign here that advertises this as income producing property.  While the spot seems quite popular as a truck stop, the trouble is that unless you sell fuel, truckers are pretty self-sufficient.  For example, I have had dinner, watched television, slept comfortably through the night and then awakened and had breakfast with a cup of coffee. I have not spent a dime. No restroom facilities, but I did need to check the tires for leaks during the night.

Let’s See This Through to the End

Wal-Mart Distribution Center (DC) #6056, Terrell, Texas, September 9, 2016 9:40 AM

In the interest of having something complete to move on from, I will finish the sage of the frozen catfish.  By the way, these were “Farm Raised” catfish.  I had seen the words “Wild Caught” on the Bill of Lading earlier, but upon further investigation, it was only one item per pallet listed as such.  It is the data logger that records the temperature history of the cargo.  Somebody in New Jersey has a sense of humor.

I am waiting to be unloaded at the Wal-Mart DC in Terrell, Texas. I was 50 minutes early. Their system is for me to back in the door and then uncouple and move my tractor to a parking area. I had the trailer in the door about 7:45.  So, now my trailer’s refrigeration unit (“Reefer”) is trying its best to bring the entire warehouse down to 34° Fahrenheit while they ignore the now thawing two (2) pallets of frozen fish (that I had watched over like a new mother for 1500 miles).  It has been an hour and a half. The warehouse is kept cool, but it is nowhere near 34F.  The powered pallet jacks these guys drive can unload both pallets at once and get it to cold storage in less than 10 minutes.  I could have used an unpowered pallet jack and walked both to the freezer in 30 minutes.  I could have hand carried all the boxes in less than an hour.  The other DC’s cargo is also thawing in my now-opened-for-the-first-time-since-sealed trailer.

Very soon, I will again be into the 14 hour clock eating my driving time again.  I need at least 5 hours of drive time and to arrive at the truck stop near the final by 4:30 PM.  That will allow me to get to the last stop (another Wal-Mart Distribution Center) on time.  Being late will, of course be heaped at my door.  No matter that another Wal-Mart DC made me late.

Flying J Truck Stop, New Caney, Texas, September 9, 2016 8:50 PM

Once again, I exist at this Oasis in Limbo where all of us are prisoners of the Clock, serving out our 10 hour sentences so we may drive again.  Over the road truckers are adrift in time.  Some of us here are just waking up, some here for the 30 minute mandatory break in the middle of a driving day, some finally collapsing in the sleeper after a 600 mile sojourn.

Word came that Louis, my oldest son, is in the hospital for Diverticulitis again.  I called to talk to him.  They don’t think an operation will be necessary, but he has been in serious enough pain to merit a morphine IV.  He seems mostly irritated at the prospect of another boring hospital stay.  I am encouraged, because grumpy people are usually not seriously ill.  It’s when they give up and become polite and co-operative that you have to worry.  My father had been like that in his final hours.  I mentioned that I could possibly come by to see Number One Son, but he told me to get another load and earn more money.  He has no doubt been listening to his mother worry about expenses, now that I have joined the ranks of the underemployed.

At midnight, my eight day, 70 hour clock picks up the 10 hours and 43 minutes I used up nine days ago, making 11 hours and 29 minutes.  I will awaken at a quarter till two, when my 11 hour clock is renewed after the ten hours in Limbo.  The 14 hour clocks start when I log my pre trip inspection, shortly before I leave to deliver the last of the catfish.  That should take exactly two hours at the DC, since they would have to pay me to stay longer.  That is called “detention pay” and was a procedure adopted when drivers refused loads to certain abusive DC’s who burn up all their drive time while they wait to be unloaded.  I have it from knowledgeable sources that Wal-Mart DC 7010 would drag out unloading for seven hours, throwing away the drive time of drivers who – like me for the last few days –  have their 11 hour clock consumed by the 14 hour clock.  When they do that, it is like they reached into the driver’s pocket, pulled out a hundred dollars or so, and burned it in front of his eyes.

Now that they have to pay drivers some little pittance, they are suddenly all about efficiency, getting them in and out of the doors in exactly the free two hours.  We will pick up the story tomorrow at the End of Trip.  I’ll go use up one of my shower credits now.

Wal-Mart Distribution Center (DC) #7010, New Caney, Texas, September 10, 2016 3:53 AM

I hit the “rack” to have a short nap before going for a shower.  There had been 14 showers available at 3 PM.  At 8 PM there were 0 (Zero), so maybe after the final drop.

This DC has us break the seal, open the doors, bump the gate at the door and then uncouple and pull up about five feet.  All this is to assure they won’t find the trailer moving while they ignore the thawing load for an hour or so – oh, and when they actually unload.  I almost had an opportunity to unload myself and possibly capture the $50 they will pay to take two pallets to the freezer.  It would have taken me less than a half hour, with a human-powered pallet jack, or maybe an hour carrying the 112 Gorton’s boxes in by hand.  But, the Company has generously already agreed to pay that automatically to the illegal aliens – through a sub-contractor with legit credentials, of course.

It has been a full hour since I bumped the dock and the light in my mirror is still green, which means they have not even begun to think about unloading.  My “Arrived” message and the gate records say I got here at (actually 20 minutes before) my appointment.  I would bet you $100 that the call from Receiving telling me to pick up the paperwork will come at 5:10 AM – the “free” limit, before Detention Pay.

Detention Pay is really just a bunch of Fairy Dust, promised but never delivered.  I looked it up. I would be (would be) paid $12.50 per hour for up to ten hours after the two free hours (they actually call them “free hours” in the Driver’s manual).  This is payable in half hour increments, rounded off low. That price is about 80% of what I could make actually driving   I will never see it anyway, but at least the threat of detention pay keeps the Receivers from stealing the drivers’ time.  As we all know, Time is Money.

To sum up all this talk about clocks and limits:

  1. Drivers have a limited time per day – eleven hours – to drive, regardless of when it is done.
  2. Drivers must do all the day’s driving within a 14 hour window regardless of how much break time is done in that window – except when a continuous ten hour break occurs. Then another 14 hour window can begin.
  3. If pick up or delivery happens in the middle of the day and the delay exceeds three hours, now the Shipper/Receiver is taking hours that could be earning hours and turning them into “free” hours.
  4. The Eight Day 70 hour clock can also consume driving hours. On the 8th of September, for example, I had 11 driving hours and fourteen hours to do it.  But, because my eight day clock was down to 7 hours and 44 minutes, that is all I was allowed to drive. The next day I “got back” 10 hours and change that I had used nine days before.
  5. And why this obsession with driving? Because, my friends, driving is the ONLY thing that actually results in wages.  All the other stuff I have been telling you about is stuff I do for free so I can drive and make a living.
  6. By now you have heard more than you wanted to know about Federal regulations on trucker’s time and I will give that subject a rest, as well.

The empty call came about half an hour earlier than the two hours I expected.  I went to Receiving to get my paperwork and found out why.  There is a line of drivers waiting for documentation while the clerks finish it up.  Clever.  The call is the event logged as the end of the driver’s wait.  How long the driver stands in line for paperwork does not apply to detention pay.

To end the Saga of the Catfish, I will include a photo that captures the now empty trailer’s futile attempt to air condition the world as I pull it out of the door to close up and move on to a new cargo.

trailercoolstheearth

Above: Trailer 15820T makes a valiant effort to bring down the Earth’s temperature to 26° Fahrenheit. Alas, 53 feet away is the hot end of the refrigeration cycle dumping all the heat the trailer sucked out of its interior.

Notes From the Drivers’ Lounge

stevetrucker2 “Reprint” from the old WordPress site…

 

 

November 15, 2016

You may remember that I have been tolerating an air leak that leaves my driver’s seat on the floor after a while (please see the before and after photos below). It started out as an annoyance after a night’s break.  Recently, I  have been finding the seats on the floor after a ten minute fuel stop.  Other drivers have noticed the escaping air noise and I wanted to get this fixed before the Highway Patrol notices. Remember that the brakes and suspension rely on air pressure – so it is not   a trivial problem.

eyelevelairout

eyelevelairin

 

 Eye-level view from the Captain’s Chair before (left) and after (right) air pressure.

 

 

The Powers That Be in Purgatory (not the ski resort) sent me a satellite mail to the effect that my tractor needed scheduled maintenance.  I took that opportunity of a shop visit to request that the leak be repaired.  So, after completing my last delivery in Harmony, Pennsylvania and before I accept another load I will drive to the TA truck stop near Barkeyville (I didn’t make that up) Pennsylvania.

The shop that performed the service check also changed out those near-bald drive tires that I have been putting up with for four months now.    They were so bare that they would slip when driving on unpaved yards.  The tractor starts out in four wheel drive but I had to shift into eight wheel drive to get any traction.  I had asked the mechanics at Purgatory (NTSR) to change out those tires, but they refused.

clintonvillekenworthshop
Above: Here is the Clintonville (I didn’t make that up, either) Kenworth shop.  In addition to this car lot, there are two more huge mostly-empty parking areas for trucks and trailers.  This is a far cry from the claustrophobic Peterbilt store in Landover Maryland.

The TA techs sent enough pictures to Purgatory to convince them to cough up for new tires, but they did not have the part to repair the air leak.  Now, here I am in the driver’s lounge.  It is a proper lounge with great big comfy recliners.  You can see below that my fellow driver has found one and it has fulfilled the ultimate destiny of driver’s lounge recliners.

driverslounngeclintonville

Above:  Kenworth client demonstrates proper use for driver’s lounge recliners.

I appropriated the only desk in the room to indulge in my therapeutic literary activities.

Over the road trucking is not just an occupation, but rather a complete existential lifestyle.  The truck feels so much like a ship that I cannot help but use such terms as “Captain’s Cabin” and “Ship’s Galley”.  The truck is my mobile and very private domicile  and the world as it passes, along with rest areas and truck stops are all parts of an ever changing but self-consistent existence.

Times like these, when I am “shipwrecked” are moments of alternate reality.  I exist now in a circumscribed zone of quiet idleness while I depend on others to enable the continuance of the road venture.  I know it could get depressing in a hurry.  During those ten days in Maryland, I found diversion in expeditions on foot and mass transit.  Likewise in another sentence to Purgatory I found a way to occupy my time with a visit to my son.  More recently was the Excellent Day in Denver.

This particular interlude will hopefully be brief and I will occupy my time with telling the tale rather than gathering the experiences.  My life on the road may strike you as a lonesome or forlorn existence.  But when I encounter truck stop workers, technicians or service representatives who work in one place, doing basically the same thing every day, I count myself fortunate.  Those people know exactly what tomorrow will bring – or next week or next month.  I cannot say, for certain, where I will go tomorrow.  Perhaps to the mountains of Northern California, perhaps to the Desert Southwest, perhaps to the limitless grassy plains of South Dakota.

As old as I am, I am still learning how to live my life in a meaningful and satisfying way.   My reality as it has become is somewhat solitary, but it is my nature to enjoy solitude.  My only regret is to be so long away from my family.  But, this Walkabout has made me a better, stronger and more thoughtful person and I hope the brief time that I will be with them will be all the better for that development.

solitude_2

Over The Road,

Steve

Too Briefly, Home

SteveTrucker2
Sign123_Lone

Another Masterpiece from the WordPress site


August 16-21, 2016

Baltimore Washington International Airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Home in Houston

In addition to a Driver Manager, I have a “Counselor” who is supposed to represent me in matters of family considerations, personal leave and financial matters.  I will admit that I doubted the effectiveness of this set-up from the start.  It may be that I am too cynical on these matters.  But I insist that I have good reason to be cynical by default.

Nevertheless,  I called and told my tale to my Counselor and she did what someone should have done before they jerked my chain around like they did.  She found a place for me to store the truck and bought me an air ticket home.  So, while I cannot forgive the despicable way they were treating me, I can say (somewhat grudgingly) that they ultimately did the right thing. Since I am managing to get these loads delivered on time and safely (and at bargain prices, I might add), I have every right to expect the right thing.

So let’s move on.    The place where I left the truck is the other Peterbilt shop in Maryland, this one in Baltimore.  I made sure to tell them about my ten-day visit to their sister “Pete Store” in Landover where I was so long a fixture in their shop that they joked about me being put “on the payroll”.

I am in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport  (BWI) with an hour and a half to burn.  If it were anywhere but an airport, I would have a beer.  I vaguely  remember beer. But the fact that the menus don’t mention prices and that this is the Eastern Seaboard North of Virginia tells me that these prices are out of my league.  Besides, I’ve waited over a month and it won’t hurt me to wait until I can have beer at merely retail prices.  On the other hand, I don’t do this often.  These days I almost don’t drink beer at all.  Maybe just one.  In the spirit of investigation, you see. (That wasn’t hard to get over, now was it?).

Well, beer at BWI is seven dollars for a draft pint.  I can’t call it reasonable.  Indeed I  can still call it excessive, but with the understanding that the airport will set the rents for these places knowing that they can charge these excessive amounts and so that is what has to happen for them to meet that rent.  So, I pay the seven bucks for a Samuel Adams draft and tip a Dollar – once.

You may remember that this all came about because they wanted me to go back to Illinois.  In a weird twist of fate, I had a layover in Chicago before the final flight to Houston.  In Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD), the investigative urge comes upon me again and I find that the price of beer went is now in double digits – for the same Samuel Adams draft.    I am an old man of limited means and so I appreciate very much that the bartender selling this expensive brew contributed his tip to the price of my beer.

So, now I am home at that same kitchen table where you saw my “before and after” photos.  I have been to the gym this morning to swim 15 laps and already I have some muscle tone in my upper body that has been so sadly lacking in the last few months.  I also weighed myself to find out that I am still 70 pounds lighter than the end of  last year.  That is a really good thing, since my health was beginning to notice the extra stress!

I have “taken care of business” – most importantly to get my youngest son to college at UT Dallas.  It is a great campus for a University that is gaining a good reputation for Computer Science.   Among their corporate sponsors is Texas Instruments, a company that invented a little thing called the “integrated circuit”.

I dutifully spoke the required phrases that all Fathers must recite.

Like:

“Why when I was in college, we had roommates and a bathroom down the hall with a gang shower.  Not these single bedrooms and private baths. ”

“ We had to lug around big piles of hardcover books, not your fancy-pants ipads.’

“We walked to classes in the snow, uphill – both ways”.

The elder son is now a Chef and I have counseled him to become a restauranteur extraordinaire and create a gastronomic empire on the model of Pappas family – now famously successful in Houston and all of Texas.

http://www.pappas.com/about/pappas-history/

I figure that while I am dreaming, I should dream BIG.

I also was able to make room in the overstuffed garage for the second of four automobiles that will live here with the two resident humans for the near future.  It is perhaps ominous that cats now outnumber human occupants in my remote and fondly remembered home.

And my lovely wife is also busy with her many interests – not least of which is her travel agency where she creates “Dream Vacations”,  arranging cruises and tours worldwide.  I am happy that in my absence, my loved ones are industrious and well-occupied.

Me? I am also well-occupied, back in my truck in North Carolina and bound for Orlando.  This is not what I imagined I would be doing at my age, but it has been challenging and interesting.  I will continue to ply the highways and tell my tales.  I of course appreciate your interest, Dear Readers.

Stay tuned!

P.S., I know you like when I include photos. I don’t have any that relate directly to the text. But, the photos below are from the time in Maryland when I visited the Air and Space Museum.  And, I did mention Maryland.

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Barrel Racer Mystery

September 3, 2016 (Transplanted from my old WordPress site)  

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The rig is parked in another gigantic lot, but this one is 90% vacant.  All of the spaces are “pull throughs”, i.e.,  no backing involved.  Many Thanks for this much needed relief!  This is a “Service Plaza” on Ohio’s Turnpike which is really Interstate 80.  I don’t know how the state got the right to put toll booths on a Federally funded Interstate, but they have spared no expense on these installations.  Besides the ample and easy parking for cars and trucks alike, there is a well-appointed building with restrooms, a food court some shops and a trucker’s area with showers, laundromat and TV lounge.

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Above:  The Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza Building
Above: Inside the Service Plaza

It has been two days of over ten hours of driving and there is another ten to go before my first of two stops in Massachusetts.  I will split this ten with a ten hour break in the middle.  It is a bit complicated, but given the time of the appointment for deliver and the distance involved, there are ten hours of driving and ten hours of mandatory off-duty between now and then no matter what.  I can drive straight to the receiver and hope there is a place to hide an 80 foot truck for 10 hours or stop in the middle, probably at the fuel stop.  That way, I can arrive, on time at the receiver and drive away when through. It will be a very close thing and I have asked for another hour or two on the appointment.

Just when I am about to give up and stay in a roadside park when word comes that there is on-site parking at the receiver.  I won’t be turned away for being early and be forced creep the streets illegally looking for a place to park.  So, now I can drive straight in and stay until my appointment at 5 AM.  That went well overall, but at the very end, Jill the Navigation voice told me “turn right” where I saw nothing but darkness.  Immediately she added, “Not allowed.  Return to the route behind you.”  It is an ineffective and singularly useless thing to say to a man driving a truck on a narrow country road, with no shoulders to speak of and nothing but narrow residential driveways and tiny commercial parking lots on both sides.  The usual defense of pressing Jill’s Re-route button made her say “Communications Failure”.  In other words, “You’re on your own, Sucker!”

No, I must drive ever onward as my time runs down to the tens of minutes, desperately searching for an area big enough to allow the turning radius I need.  Think of a football field.  If I go straight across on the Fifty yard line, I can turn and come back on the Twenty.  And there I was driving blindly into the night with no idea what I would encounter.  Finally I found a small motel on a corner lot with very few guests.  There was an entrance on both the highway and the cross street.  By using every inch of pavement on the cross street, the highway and the parking lot, I managed to reverse direction.

Jill came back to consciousness and showed me the distance to the turn-off.  The sign on the road was low and unlit, but visible from this direction.  The gate guard  seemed to know the motel I mentioned.  In my experience so far,  Shipping, Receiving and Warehouse staff are polite and helpful people.  The gate guard at this place was exactly that, explaining where I needed to be an when.  He even had a number for pizza delivery straight to the truck.  I had previous plans for peanut butter sandwiches.

At 6:30 the call comes to find a door and be unloaded.  They finish  around 8 and bring me the paperwork.  Part if this was written while I was “hiding” over in the parking area after closing up and sealing the load for the next stop..  I didn’t need to stay, but I have nowhere to be.  I have drive time, but it is limited by the 8 day regulations to 7 hours and 11 minutes.  The next stop is 3 hours from here.  I don’t know if I can go hang out there until my appointment at 7 AM tomorrow.  I transmitted the completion message for this stop and assembled the paperwork for this trip so far.

I looked up a Pilot truck stop (they have an iPhone App) near the final and drove there, saving a couple of hours tomorrow morning.  It was at I 95 exit 40 in Connecticut. Why Pilot?  Because that is where the company has us fuel up and that is where I get a shower credit for each 50 gallons.  I have six left and they expire after ten days, so it behooves me to use them.  I just found a receipt from Loves (the competition) and it says I have 4 showers there.  Those expire as well so perhaps I had better double up on showers.  But, Loves doesn’t seem to have any locations nearby.

This trip I spent two nights at rest stops and missed my chance at a shower.  This particular Pilot is an addition to a general travel shop in what looks like it used to be a hotel.  There is a saddle and some photos of a young barrel-racing cowgirl and her horses on display on the staircase landing.  I can only guess at the story behind this exhibit. Was she the daughter of the hoteliers back in the 60’s?  This is obviously a sentimental shrine to the racer and her horses.  Perhaps she is the elderly owner of the travel stop, these days?

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Above:  This is the display of memorabilia from a young lady’s barrel racing career.

The showers have beautiful pedestal sinks from the 1950’s and ugly rusty metal folding chairs from the 1960’s. The driver’s lounge seems to be a coin-operated pool table and what is labeled a “Theater Room”.  It really is an old-style private theater that might have screened projected movies for VIPs at one time, long ago.  I couldn’t manage to make the camera flash to get a good photo of this darkened studio    The parking lot is off behind the fueling bays and you would not know it was there if not for the signs that point it out and threaten to tow your rig if you park by the fuel island.

All these spaces are accompanied by ancient fixtures with ductwork, built on massive concrete bases.  These were evidently, life support system for trucks in the old days when it was idle your engine or freeze to death in the winter.  These would be necessary in such a setting a half-century ago.  Imagine a capacity crowd of 80 such trucks all gathered in a spot like this and idling  You younger folks, who never knew a world before emission controls on automobiles, cannot imagine what a dismal cloud of unburned hydrocarbons would “surround and penetrate you” in such a scenario. The more ancient of us can see why these things were needed, at the time. As seen in the photo, this one has a history of “incidental contact” that may date back decades.  Most trucks have Auxiliary power units (APU’s) these days. These are clean-running small diesel generators that keep power and heat/AC in the sleepers.

Ancient fixture for big-rig life support

I had three days of decent wages on the Kansas – Massachusetts run.  Each day was about 580 miles.  But there was a twenty four hour wait at the Shipper – common with meat plants,  Also, the double destinations at the Receivers adds another full day of minimal pay.  Today I got unloaded at the first stop and drove about 150 miles.  Oh, and I got $25 for the extra drop (Ka-Ching!*).

*Sarcasm

Tomorrow, I will drive about 60 miles to the last stop and then deadhead 90 miles to the next assignment.

There is a new trip on the horizon for which I only have places and times, so far.  It looks like I will be hauling candy from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania.  This is a short (500 miles) trip spread over three days.  Despite the short mileage, it sounds interesting.

Now, my phone is dead.  I expect it is the cable, because I have replaced same three times now since I have had this iPhone.  They cost about $25 and seem to last just a few months under heavy usage.  Without my phone  cannot use the Apps to find a truck stops at which to buy a new (and overpriced) cable.  I do have the address of the next pick-up.  So, there I will set off that way and see what I stumble across.  I can see that I need a back-up for the iPhone. I have become dependent upon it. Technology has its consequences.

Once More to The Vestibule of Hell

stevetrucker2This is yet another post that was languishing over at the WordPress site.

September 27, 2016

“Stay away from Dallas”. 

This sage advice is from me to myself.  I am in Denton, Texas, “sitting in a door” awaiting the unloading of produce from California.  A “preplan” has just come across the satellite link that tells me my next load will be picking up at the Coca Cola Syrup Plant in Dallas.  The destination is Denver for 840 miles – a two day trip that will undoubtedly be stretched into four days, as we discussed in earlier Chapters.  But, I accept the load because I really have no choice.

Now for the Rest of the Story:  A note from someone named Billy  says I should bring my load to the Yard.  So, you see the lesson is clear:  Stay away from Dallas.

I called my Driver Manager to Confirm this – since I have no idea who “Billy” is – and, yes I have to make an appearance in Purgatory (not the ski resort (NTSR)).  One reason is a physical exam , after the third such in the last nine months.  I passed them all, by the way.  The first and third exams  had a one year renewal.  But, since my livelihood is apparently a low priority, I have to go in for a forth.  Today is Friday.  Since it its nearly 4 PM and the light is still red – meaning I cannot yet leave the door – there is no way I can get there during “office hours” – and I suspect the Doctors do not work on Weekends.  So, unless I miss my guess, this will be three or possibly four more days of  ungainful unemployment.

The unloaded message from Target has come.  The light is still red but when it changes I can go to Coca Cola and then to Purgatory (NTSR).  Meanwhile, my clock has run out completely and utterly.  The Coca Cola Plant policy is – as I many times said as a bartender – “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”.  I had told the shipping clerk that if I could not be loaded in two hours, I would come back in the morning.  That particular clerk was not among the Polite and Helpful Shipping Personnel of whom I have written before. He ignored my advice completely.

While the clock was ticking down, – in anticipation of what finally did occur – I had called “Night Safety” and asked for advice.  Their sage counsel was basically this: “Call me when you actually fall off the cliff.”

One thing I have learned in this occupation (maybe I should start a list) is:  When you have an insoluble problem, ask the people in the plant because they have seen this a hundred times before,”  The first choice is the Yard Tractor Guy,  If he is unavailable (being very busy), ask the man who brings you your paperwork.  That helpful and cheerful individual clued me in to some big parking lots to be found about a half mile away.  I chose a Lowes lot, because, on the way in I had stopped there to confirm directions.  There was an old trailer parked there that I could hide behind to avoid any questions from the Local Constabulary.

I was officially “off duty” and I creeping the truck at 10 MPH – flashers going – I manage to stay that way to find the Lowes.  I also find another truck who has taken my hiding place behind the abandoned trailer.  One look by the loading docks finds tow-away warnings with certain words in bold font.  There was, however a string of about 10 conventional parking spots – off the side of the building, but in full view of the street.

Calling Night Safety is no longer useful since they may  well tell me to move.  And I have no confidence in their advice now anyway.  So, I mentally prepare my defense for the sin of parking.

  1. That sign that says no parking anytime (with emphasis) cannot possibly apply to me here because: What are these spaces between the eight lines that I am parked over?  That’s right – “Parking Spaces!”
  2. Yes, I have taken nine of them, but I can point to hundreds of empty spaces out in front of the store.
  3. I have every right to park here, because I am a customer. I need to buy a screwdriver.  I find that the store is closed now, but I don’t mind waiting.
  4. I will be leaving at 4:30 AM. Please tell me if the other spaces fill up before then.

September 27, 2016 Pilot truck Stop outside Amarillo, Texas

Back in Purgatory

The “Yard” is a singularly depressing place.  Every driver there is earning nothing. When I arrive, I am handed a list of tasks I must accomplish in order to escape Purgatory (NTSR).  I find that I will be here at least three days between safety lectures and the physical exam.  A few of the safety items are accomplished before the office staff goes home at noon, Saturday.  The remainder must wait until Monday.  With few exceptions, every driver here is trapped without transportation.  You don’t just drive these trucks when you think you want to go somewhere – you must be “dispatched” and you won’t be, until your list is complete and signed off.  There are two “loaner” cars for the untold hundreds of drivers.  The waiting list is three hours long and the car must be returned within one hour. The entirety of Saturday afternoon was consumed with one trip to Walmart.  This was urgent, since the truck’s food supply has dwindled to “Spam Rations”.

Sunday was shaping up to be especially dismal, having literally nothing to advance the cause of getting out of Purgatory (NTSR).  I thought of my son Benjamin now attending college classes about 50 miles from Purgatory.  I would like to visit him, but that would be a trip out of the one-hour-loaner-car range.  A taxi is financially counter-indicated in my current circumstances.  Fortunately, Dallas has an extensive mass-transit rail system that nobody seems to know about. I hatched a plot to make a Great Railway Journey to The University of Texas at Dallas (which is really in Richardson, Texas).  Some research came up with this route:

Take the 597 bus that stops right in front of Purgatory (NTSR).  That takes me to Lawn View train station.  From there I take the Green line downtown and transfer to the Red Line which takes me almost to Plano.  I get off at City Line/Bush station and take the 883 UTD shuttle.  About two hours and fifteen minutes each way.  Since the alternative was to cool my heals in Purgatory, I decided to make the journey.  The price was right, being a five-dollar day pass.  I noticed that it was good until Three AM the next day.  I am quite sure this is because bars close at Two.

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Above:  The trip plan to UT Dallas.  The Astute Reader will notice that this is actually a picture of the return route.

img_1885Above: The Green Line station at Lawn View

img_1893Above: Benjamin’s Dormitory Building.  His window is third from the left on the second floor. Like almost every building on Campus, it is very new.

img_1894Above:  The lobby at Benjamins Dorm.

img_1895Above:  Benjamin

So, instead of a depressing and lonely vigil of hopelessness, Sunday had become an interesting trip to spend some time with my beloved son.  There is, after all a reason not to avoid Dallas.  For this much-needed relief I was truly thankful.

Benjamin took me to lunch and then we went shopping at Walmart.  That was yet another bus ride.  The stop outside Walmart was littered with abandoned shopping carts. I, your humble narrator, pointed out (ostensibly to Benjamin, but meant to be overheard by the mass of scholars there assembled) that the arriving student-shoppers could choose a cart from this stash and take it in with them.  I set them an example, but none of the “Future of America” saw fit to join me.  They did select carts at the door, however.  And no doubt they added to the collection at the bus stop on the way out.

img_1896Above:  The bus stop at Walmart

img_1903Above:  City Line / Bush Station, on the way back to Purgatory.  The emergency equipment was  there when I arrived for some poor commuter who somehow fell and was trapped between the bench and the partition that you see under the awning at left.  I didn’t rush over and photograph him, since I am sure he was dying of embarrassment, in addition to the nasty bruises I noticed as they put him in the ambulance.

There is some good that comes of this unwilling visit to Purgatory.  Mechanics replaced the duct taped improvised oil filler cap that I made from a fish oil pill bottle with a real oil cap and replaced the lost oil – five gallons of same. They also repaired the tractor suspension airbag that was leaking.  While I was in safety class and getting my blood pressure checked, they replaced my cracked windshield.  They transferred the EZ pass for tolls and the Prepass indicator for weigh stations to the new windshield.  One particular windshield-mounted item did not make the transition and I won’t miss it one bit.     (Update:  Since I am no longer employed by Stevens Transport I can tell you that the item in question was the “1984 – Big Brother Camera” (84BBC) that watched over me for those months before the windshield was replaced.  I did not mention it before because, in my Paranoia, I imagined that Stevens might read my blog and call me again to Purgatory for a replacement of the 84BBC.)

There was also a problem with the air-suspension seats, which tend to leak down while the engine is off and leave the driver looking eye-level at the steering wheel.  They did not get to that problem of the leaking seats but I can live with those.  When the engine is running the seats rise to comfortable height.  It would have taken longer and I needed to get on the road to actually earn a living.

On Monday, after all my assigned tasks were complete, I received a load assignment to take bottled soft drinks to Denver.

Over The Road,

Steve

Purgatory

SteveTrucker2

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August 7, 2016

Purgatory

[pur-guh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]

  1. any condition or place of temporary punishment, suffering, expiation, or the like.

    I am now “on the Yard” at company headquarters.  I have dropped my trailer and been assigned another truck.  This one is a real mystery.  A Kenworth T680 built in November, 2013.  It looks almost new, drives and shifts smoothly and is “clean as a whistle”.  The odometer reads 35,000 miles.  And that would seem impossible.

This truck has been “on the fleet” for two and a half years and should have at least five or six times that mileage.  The Peterbilt is just about that old and it has 385,000 miles. While I am lucky to have such a low mileage vehicle, I can’t help but wonder what the story is behind this machine.  One thing that is completely out of place in this story is the condition of the forward drive axle.  Its tires are nearly at the legal minimum for tread  depth, while its brother’s tires to the rear are almost new.  I have requested that these tires (the baldies, that is) be replaced.

I pull up the Kenworth “across the bow” of the Peterbilt to transfer the refrigerator first and then all my other possessions.  It can’t stay there long, but I don’t need long.  Next I swap the Peterbilt out of the “good” parking spot and put the Kenworth into same.   I drove the Peterbilt over by the garage where I would turn in the keys in the morning.  Then, I collapsed in the Kenworth because what I just described was a lot of work.  Fortunately, the Kenworth has a working Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) that keeps the cabin habitable through the hot Dallas evening.

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Above: 2014 model Kenworth T680 – 12946.  Note the windshield shade with cool-looking beach scene.  It reflects the heat ,  yes.  But more importantly, it marks my truck so I can find it later.  Please see “Tractor Row” below for explanation.

TractorRowDay.jpgAbove:  “Tractor Row” The one with the cool-looking beach scene in the windshield is mine.

CaptainsDesk12946Above:  The Kenworth has a desk that does not look like a piece of plywood.

PurgatoryAbove:  Purgatory’s Backside.  The small building in the foreground has the driver’s lounge where trucker stereotypes are preserved by drivers leaving their empty soda bottles and pizza cartons strewn across the tables and floors while the trash cans in the room remain empty.

In the morning, I have lots to do before I am allowed to leave the Yard.  These activities include safety lectures and dealing with “compliance” (recordkeeping to comply with federal regulations on driving time – it’s complicated).  Then I need my Driver Manager’s approval and that of “Central Clearance” – they check all my registrations and paperwork. I cannot get my truck out the gate without all these items ticked off the list.  And those tires I requested apparently are still being manufactured and will be shipped out by mule train sometime next week.

Fact is, I don’t have a load, yet anyway, so there is nowhere to go.  And, it does not matter anyway because all the people who can provide “approval” for my departure have gone home at noon, today, Saturday.  They will not return until Monday when dozens of other drivers – trapped in Purgatory with me – will compete to get their clearance.  So, another two days (minimum) of no income. This has become a recurring theme in the “high-paying-job-as-a-professional-truck-driver”.

Farewell 12573 – We Hardly Knew Ye!

SteveTrucker2

August 5, 2016       Garland, Texas     homepage


I am reminded that today is Christmas Day

                    So, Please also have a look at this Christmas Classic

I have been instructed to report to the “Yard” in Dallas and turn in my truck.  It has apparently been sold.    I asked how long it might take  to get a new truck.  The answer was “Depends”.  I should have replied, “No, Fruit of the Loom – briefs” but my comedic reflexes are slow these days.

The last time I was issued a truck, I expected a worst case scenario.  Specifically, since I had driven and was familiar with Kenworths and Freightliners in training, that I would be issued a Peterbilt.  Good instincts, as it turns out.  The clutch gave me trouble from the start, with what is called “clutch chatter”.  Not severe and the only other Peterbilt I had driven (only for a half hour or so) had the same problem. In any case, the clutch was a body-builder tool and I was soon walking with a limp because of all the excess muscle in my left leg.  Not a big problem, until it was a big problem.

The last episode of mechanical adversity cost me ten days of poverty.  The company pays an insulting $25 per day for breakdowns after the first two days.  The company wanted to nickel-and-dime the hotel. I would have to call and get authorization every day.  We tried that on check-in and they refused the company card so  I covered the hotel with my own credit card and expensed it back to avoid looking like a deadbeat every afternoon.   They have at least reimbursed me for that.  They tend to treat drivers as people with no financial means whatsoever.  That is probably appropriate considering the level of remuneration.

One wonders what delays are in store for the next truck.

12573Anon

Above is the Peterbilt in question as we “sit in a door” in Garland, Texas.  The “lumpers” unload for hours while the driver kills time…taking photos, say.  This receiver was mercifully quick and I left no more than three hours after arrival.  From here I go to the “Yard”…Company Headquarters.  There, to put the old mare out to pasture (tractors are female and trailers, male by virtue of their “connecting equipment”).